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Us 9, Chinatown 7, Sugaya 7, North Beach 3, Mr. Funge 2, Columbus 2, Mr. Reiskin 2, Borden 2, Stockton 1, Sanchez 1, Moore 1, Nipa 1, Mta 1, Obama 1, United States 1, John Funge 1, Poe Lebanontionv 1, Washington 1, Variances 1, San Francisco 1,
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  SFGTV    [untitled]  

    February 20, 2013
    7:30 - 8:00am PST  

passed and effective. >> that was kind of my understanding, is our conditional use is conditioned on the formation and approval of the sud, but that's understood we can take that action and encourage the board of supervisors to establish the sud that would allow this to happen. and i remember that happening on quite a few projects. i can't bring them up line and verse, it's happened. perhaps zoning administrator sanchez can -- >> yes, recently in december with the adoption of the western soma plan, the item immediately after that was an approval of a project under the western soma plan. the western soma plan still hasn't been to the land use committee, but that would probably not become adopted and effective until april or may. and, so, the approval that this commission gave was contingent upon the successful adoption of those rezoning efforts. so, this is something that this
commission has done numerous times. there are many, many examples of this. >> thank you. and finally, as to the approvals themselves that are before us, i think they seem to be fairly formulated for the project owner who would want to move forward at this time, as everybody else is in san francisco, because this is the time to build and he's at a disadvantage in he's had to wait two to three years. so, he he needs to be compensated obviously. and the changes that we're approving, for example, the height change only is allowing for a new structure 55 feet rather than before we didn't have to do that because the existing building was 55 already. so, the retrofit or the rebuild of the existing pagoda to include this project did not meet that piece of action by us. and almost everything else that we're asked to do are all things that are, you know, make it possible for this to move forward but aren't really doing
too much different except changing the amount of retail space in the restaurant relative to the total retail space. and i think there are a couple of other smaller items, but there's backyard and a couple of other things that were part and parcel of our approval that we gave to mr. campos, i think, three years ago, three to four years ago, i think it was 2009. okay, thank you. >> commissioner sugaya. >> i have a basic question of planning staff. why is this sud necessary? >> commissioner sugaya, there are a number of a aspects expects, sort of physical aspects of the project, * that when viewed as a rehabilitation project as the previous version of the project was, the existing building is nonconformable with respect to height and several other physical development standards of the planning code. with the project being now a
demolition of the existing building and new construction, that building is no longer viewed through that sort of nonconforming lens. so, issues related to height to rear yard dwelling unit exposure, certain things that are somewhat dictated and fixed by the fact that the existing building formula is being replicated, but not with the current code. those are being addressed by the sud. separately there are a number of programmatic issues in terms of the uses such as allowing the restaurant use on this property, allowing a nonresidential use over 4,000 square feet with the large restaurant space. several other kind of use related, not physical related aspects of the project, would need to be addressed through this sud. and the height legislation as well. >> oka thank you. in essence, then, it has absolutely nothing to do with the mta's project itself; is that correct?
our action, in essence. >> it has to do with the mta action insofar as this is the site that is being proposed for the extraction of the equipment. >> right. >> the demolition of the building and then to enable that same project that was already approved essentially, the sud would be necessary to address those things that i mentioned earlier. [multiple voices] >> we took those on the merits of the project sponsor was coming to us and saying, i want to demolish my building, no matter what the reason, i want to demolish my building and i want to take it down and i want to construct a new building similar to what was approved before. he would have to go through the same exact process. is that correct? >> that's correct. there would still need to be legislative changes to enable that building to occur in the same configuration as it exists. >> and do you think at that point that planning would recommend approval of that project?
>> i would think we would, you know -- we're not really viewing this in the absence of the proposed use of the site for the extraction of the machine. this is kind of being viewed in its entirety in light of that proposal to avoid disruption to columbus avenue. >> thank you. to mta, did you consider using eminent domain and just taking the site? >> commissioner sugaya, when we first were presented with the idea of extracting from this site, we looked at different options that would be available to us. a very quick analysis and discussion that i had with somebody from the city attorney's office suggested that the timeline for any eminent domain proceeding would far exceed our schedule constraints and would render that a nonviable option. >> okay, thank you.
another question, i don't know who can answer it. there was in your letter mention of one alternative, which was to extract the machine from the chinatown station site. and at least i think i read that. and i think there were different reasons. one was size. maybe the other was timing in terms of holding up construction of the station. but mr. funge's slide showed a dimension for the hole that's going to be prepared for the extraction of the pagoda theater site. does that dimension fit within the chinatown station site; do you know? >> so, the proposed -- commissioner sugaya, john funge, central subway. the proposed retrieval shaft box dimension approximately was over 40 by 40, as shown in the
original plans, would fit on the center of stockton street. and that's what was detailed out in the 2008 supplemental e-i-r as was labeled option 3a. >> so, that was taken into consideration at one time? >> yes, it was, as part of the supplemental, and was rejected back in 2008. >> for what reason? >> there was a -- there was a number of reasons. one was disruption to the community. the fact that the alignment projected a fairly deep shaft in chinatown. it's approximately somewhere around 70 to 80 feet versus the 40 foot in north beach. but i think the most overwhelming option would be that removing the machines in chinatown would essentially preclude or make it quite a bit more difficult for future opportunity of the line
extension into north beach, which was detailed out as option 3b. >> now, i'm not an engineering, but you can't dig the tunnel in north beach and back them out in chinatown? >> these machines don't back up. so, essentially -- >> so, if they make a mistake, you've made a mistake and you can't back the machine out? that doesn't seem plausible. anyway, it doesn't matter. i have another question. in the slide after the one i think that showed the footprint of the hole, you were talking about a methodology for driving some -- they're not really piles, but something that would go down into the impervious material so that the digging of the hole, let's say, would not be subject to inundation with water. do you know how far down that particular system has to go to
find impervious material? >> well, we anticipate that the bed rock would be approximately 70 feet down. so, we plan on using hydraulic drilling machines so we're not driving anything down, having any type of vibration. we're drilling three-ftse can't piles and they're interlocking concrete piles that would essentially construct a fairly thickened concrete wall that's embedded deep into a layer that would not allow water to go underneath it. * secant so, essentially you're entraping the groundwater and that would allow you to excavate the interior of the shaft. similar to -- >> you're telling me those things have to go down 70 feet, but the hole itself is only going to go to 40 feet? >> the hole itself will go down to 42 feet. the shaft itself needs to go down to an invert elevation of 42 feet.
>> so, do you think that's where mr. carp got mixed up in terms of his saying that the digging would have to go down to 70 feet instead of 42? i'm just trying to figure out where he made a 30-foot error in his assumption. >> i didn't have an opportunity to speak with mr. carp or provide him with any drawings. i'm not sure where he acquired his information. >> okay, thank you. mr. wong, since you're part of save and i presume you're in touch with mr. carp, do you know what his assumption of 70 feet was based on? it was based on text and the e-i-r addendum which had a statement of 75 feet. the drawing, figure 2 in the
addendum, was very unclear and couldn't really be determined where that [speaker not understood]. he he what relying on the written word. in the letter that was just presented to you, dated today february 14, mr. carp has written a supplemental letter that, you know, clarifies your question in that he said irrespective of the depth, his professional opinion is that whether the box is at 42 feet or 75 feet, because the water table is only fairly shallow, i can't -- i'm not an expert on the geotechnical issues. but i think the groundwater table is somewhere 8 feet below the grade. so that whether the box is at 42 feet below grade or 75, the same hydraulic pressures, the same impacts on adjacent buildings exist. so, you might want to read that letter, one-page letter to understand the technical issues better. >> okay, thank you.
and then i'm sorry, i should have asked you, mr. funge, when you were still up. but in terms of your conclusions and mr. reiskin's conclusions about the effect of the construction of the extraction hole and going down in what you just described, is that based on your own geotechnical report? >> it's based on our own geotechnical analysis. >> can we see that report? was it done prior -- it couldn't have been done prior to and part of the original environmental report and original plans for the subway. i don't know, maybe they were, because this site was not part of that particular analysis. so, now you're saying that you've spent two months putting this thing together and you've gotten a geotechnical report within two months on which you
can say that what the allegations being presented by save muni are wrong? >> what we're relying on is past geotechnical analysis that would allow us to employ the identical engineering techniques employed for the launch box work of the construction of the moscone station, the ums station, the north beach retrieval shaft. >> but you don't know the exact conditions in this particular location; is that right? >> we have -- there was a soil boring done back in the property owner's geotechnical engineer, [speaker not understood], actually did a soil boring on the property. and when -- if and when we are allowed to demolish the building, that will give us considerable more access to, to further investigate the soil and to adapt a design, if needed, during the course of the design development and early construction.
but the techniques that we're employing are virtually the same techniques that's currently underway on forth street and stockton street. >> okay, thank you. i guess this is just -- it just -- something doesn't gel with me on this project. it's not, it's not -- i like the subway in a sense. i think the planning was horrendous for it. way back when it came before us, i asked the question as to why for such a comprehensive, supposedly comprehensive project it didn't go all the way to fisherman's wharf in the first place. and why it stopped, seemingly at a point where it didn't make any sense. and as i recall, the answer was because -- this is before mr. reiskin, long time before you
came on -- the answer basically was because they didn't study it or something to that effect. if they had a limited study budget and they only carried it so far. isn't that right? if that's the answer, we can go back to the tape and listen to it. and, so, from the very beginning this whole thing hasn't been planned correctly, in my opinion. and people who think that this site is going to be the north beach station, you know, that has to be decided. but i think some people would like it to be, but it's going to be 30 years away. * or more. unless obama has a lot of infrastructure money that we don't know about yet. in any case, that aside, it just seems like using this tool, that now we're faced with
yet another one-parcel sud, which i have railed against for a long time is not the proper way to do planning in this city. and i know this is kind of a one-time situation, but every time we have one of these, it's a one-time situation. and, so, the sud i think is a wrong way to go about it. it also, as i started off by asking the question of planning staff, put this in a really bad light because the existing building is what it is. we approved the project based on the fact that that building was what it was or what it is, and we wanted it to go ahead, you know, it was fine, change the use. we did approvals, but that decision was based on the existing building. now we're being asked to turn around and violate the height
limit. it's 40 feet around here for blocks and blocks and blocks, and now we're asking -- being asked to make an exception in this case to go to 55 feet. why? because the existing building is 55 feet. but, hey, we have a new project . and that's the other issue that i have with this, is that we have no plans to base our conditional use and height change on. we have no plans. you're asking us -- me to take it on faith that this new project, whatever it is, is going to be the same as the old project. but the old project has an existing building in it. this is new construction. we have no new construction plans. we have no demolition plans that normally accompany this kind of decision. so, i'm sorry, i can't support it. >> commissioner moore.
>> commissioner sugaya took the thunder away because he he eloquently basically listed the majority of points which i was planning to address. i want to pick up the last one. i believe that using the sud, dual sud is a blunt tool for justifying [speaker not understood]. i like to remind people there are other construction sites involving transportation infrastructure. not all of them requiring the extraction of a boring machine where properties were side to side for interim use. i like to remind people that the rebuilding of the cable car a few years ago for almost two years required the use of an entitled property at the corner of powell and california, exactly 72 82 powell street for almost two years. and there was no sud to justify the interim use of the site. well, this is not required
below grade extraction. it facilitated the building of the cable car. however, it then returned the property to its potential realization with an entitled residential project, which at its time was slightly too large, but that is not what we're discussing here. using an sud for an interim use and then tagging on a project which by necessity of demolition for the interim use would require cu without submitting proper drawings which, one, in approving sud and approving cu are required i think is unfathomable to me. this commission spent a lot of time against some of our convictionses at the time and we approved the project with the very thoughtfully executed design which with many tucks and twists and turns, but forward a project that the
neighborhood was comfortable with at large. i support the design, although there were people who asked us to hold out and not approve. after so many years, as the audience here testified, this site needed a change. why can't this project not in good faith come back to this commission as a regular cu rather than want be to be a cu with an already existing special use district? there are two cus embedded with the north beach, the 1999 neighborhood commercial district as well as the 2008 special use district. the rules which are established in those cus, all they do is guide uniform predictable development. that is the strength and that is the beauty why this neighborhood is one of the few neighborhoods in the united states which was elevated to a
very special status of livability among the many cities which [speaker not understood]. why tinker with that? why take it out of public review by giving it a new height limit? why take it out of public review by pre-authorizing without any proof of drawings or do an increase what needs to come back as a restaurant use over 4,000 square feet? why, without having drawings blankly approve, variances, et cetera? i believe it's in bad faith for myself sitting here as a commissioner trying to guard the public interest and be looking out for it to prove an sud and a cu which does so. there is, when you look at the rather shoddy set of drawings attached to today's proposal, drawings which are one prepared by another architect.
these drawings show changes. the name of the firm which is submitting these drawings is different. the address is different from the architect who the project we approved in 2010. and there is not even a color [speaker not understood] or anything which makes you compare with then what was now the drawings are not a full set of drawings. they are basically pick and choose in the set that at least 6 or 8 drawings missing. so, if you [speaker not understood] you can piece it together. but even at very cursory -- and i'm using the word cursory review, the project is different enough to have to come back to this commission with a full set of accurate drawings between -- to compare what was approved then and potentially in kind support the approval of a new cu in the future. i am concerned about the lack of
e-i-r issues, nipa issues that commissioner sugaya touched on. i support many of the concerns addressed by the audience. and i believe that we are rushing this at a rate that does not give us the ability to support. >> commissioner borden. >> i feel quite a bit differently. you know, we have -- the fundamental difference in this project and the project we saw a couple years ago was full demolition of the older building, which was pretty much been kind of a shed standing for quite sometime versus a total demolition. i mean, i always argue about i'm not always confused about de facto or actual demolition. but in all intents and purposes, the previous project we approved didn't even look like the same project although it was not considered a total demolition. now we have a total demolition
and we basically have fuamentally the same project before us. the issues, we may have -- we have drawings in front of us and maybe they're not color rendering. but substantially everything about this project, the size and the scope, the only difference that we talked about is the size of the use for the restaurant there being whether or not it was commercial use, other commercial use incorporated. but i haven't actually heard anyone, members of the public bringing up issues about the substantive factors of the project itself should that space not be a larger restaurant, you know, none of the -- none of the substantive issues about the development project or what people are talking about. they're talking about the boring machines and whether or not they agree with the process or all of that's happened. for me, i mean, what i have in front of me is a conditional use authorization related to the actual project itself, which i see to be fundamentally the same project that i looked at a few years back.
and i do remember touring that theater during that time and what poor condition it was in, and i know that there was a lot of pressure to try to preserve it and that was like the intent of the project sponsor in the original proposal. but obviously, again, it didn't really look to be the same. in terms of why we use conditional use necessary or desirable, you know, we had a special use district for booker t. washington, for higher height district. we decided it was necessary and desirable for the type of housing community it was providing. we also approved that sud prior to the board of supervisors taking action on it. so, it's not as if this is unusual situation. i would say that the completion of this project is necessary and desirable for the city and we've already invested the funds. commissioner sugaya brought up a good point. one of the shortcomings of this project all along was that it didn't extend all the way to fisherman's wharf. if we had the opportunity, the boring machines in north beach and set up at least a north beach station and poe
lebanontionv any in the future be able to explore a fisherman's wharf station, it makes a lot of sense to me that we would want to make that preference. the other thing i wanted to point out is that in terms of the sud we've discussed, it has an expiration date on it. this is not an incident sud. so, it's not like other sud's we typically implement where there is no time frame. this is specific to this project and this boring situation. so, if that doesn't happen, then this sud goes away, we're not creating an instance in the planning code where something doesn't fit that [speaker not understood] we already approved. in terms of leaving the machinery in the ground, after everything we've learned post hunters point shipyard project and the burning -- the below the soil and all types of contaminants, i can't imagine leaving some sort of metal or steel or whatever kind of machine it is underground for perpetuity. it just doesn't seem like good public policy give that hectionv we never know what the long-term ramifications to such action.
in terms of people saying the disturbance of north beach versus the disturbance of chinatown, so, i'm not really clear why it's okay to disturb businesses in chinatown but not okay to disturb businesses in north beach. that argument kind of doesn't really hold a lot of weight for me. in terms of the geotechnical issues, the obviously once they demolish the building as someone pointed out we can do further analysis and requirements around that, that is not the jurisdiction of this planning commission. we hear it all the time in discretionary review in other cases. people claiming geotechnical issues. ultimately we're not going to know what we know until we're in the ground. projects are stopped or halted or decisions are made at that time. again, this commission can't make decisions based on that nor is it even in the purview of the requested actions that we're looking at. so, you know, for me i don't see a reason not to support the project. i was supportive of the project when it came to us before. the height, the bulk, the units, everything is substantially the same as the previous project. i don't have an opinion on the
restaurant size being larger than what was previously contemplated. i do know that we're having an issue with retail spaces being viable for better and for worse. so, i don't see any reason not to support the project especially since it achieves the aims and goals of our transit first policy and allowing the transit to be extended potentially further into a community that definitely needs it would actually be worthwhile. but again, for me if necessary or desirable, this project we decided that before added the additional benefits of the central subway i'm very supportive of it. >> if i could add about the plan. so, the architect has changed from the project that was previously before the commission. i don't know if the previous architect had died, but there is a new architect on board. and they did submit a site permit, the full site permit was reviewed by all agencies and approved, it was actually ready for issuance. so, the apploonians that were included in the packet are based on the site plans that
are ready for approval to construct the project that was already approved by the commission. i just wanted to note that. >> thank you. commissioner hillis. >> sure. i agree with much of what commissioner borden said. i think when you boil this down, we can redebate the central subway project every time we have a station project before. so, whatever the item. but when you're boring it down, it seems to me like we're vastly improving the condition upon removing these machines for folks at north beach whether they're residents or businesses instead of doing it on columbus avenue, we're now doing it on the pagoda site, which i imagine will be less impactful or a lot less impactful than doing it in the street. we've got a project that's pretty much identical to the project we approved, but probably has more opportunity and more feasibility to be built. and i agree with ms. christiansen, i hope this leads to more debate about than it is here, extending the subway to th